One step forward, one painful step back.
A petition to ban mandatory high heels in the workplace has been rejected by Parliament in the U.K.
Nicola Thorp, a London-based equality campaigner who was sent home from her temp job in 2016 for not wearing heels, garnered over 150,000 signatures on a petition to change legislation regarding dress code. The legislation currently states employers have a right to send staff home if they deem their outfits to be unreasonable.
The government acknowledged that Thorp’s petition shed light on an issue regarding awareness and enforcement of current dress code laws, but called the current legislation “adequate.” The government also confirmed it would be “producing guidance on dress codes in the workplace as a specific response to the Thorp petition and the issues it raises,” hopefully this summer.
The news comes just weeks after a similar law banning mandatory high heels at work was passed in Canada. British Columbia’s government declared it unsafe to force employees to wear high heels, due to risk of injury and damage from prolonged wear. The decision came after a woman who was forced to wear heels at work posted a photo of her bloody feet, and it went viral.
In its response to the U.K. petition, the Petitions Committee and Women’s Equality Committee questioned how many instances of this practice are actually happening in the country.
“We are aware of very few actual employment tribunal cases involving an employer’s requirements on the appearance of its employees—the focus of the petition and the inquiry which followed it,” their statement said.
Still, the U.K. government expressed a dedication to ensuring safe and comfortable working conditions for all its employees. “The Government takes this issue very seriously and will continue to work hard to ensure women are not held back in the workplace by outdated attitudes and practices.”
It seems that notion could be easily proven by abolishing the outdated and quite frankly unsafe law. Here’s hoping there’s more change to come this summer.